Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Here We Go Again

Mojo magazine gives Tobias Jesso Jr.'s new record 4 stars and compares him to Paul McCartney. Uncut magazine gives Tobias Jesso Jr.'s new record an 8 out of 10 rating and compares him to Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson.

I gave Tobias Jesso Jr.'s new record a chance, got very angry at Mojo and Uncut, and listened to early Paul McCartney, Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson instead.

Ending a song on a major 7th chord doesn't make Oasis, the Beatles and making a piano album without autotune and 27 producers doesn't make you Randy Newman.

Keep moving. There's nothing to see here.


kevin m said...

I gave it one minute and stopped.

I'm trying to think of the last time Uncut/MOJO/Q gave a 1 star review to an album.

buzzbabyjesus said...

"Without You" reminds me more of Gilbert'O Sullivan than those other guys.
"How Could You Babe" sounds okay, and I like it better than D'Angelo, but hearing it once was enough.

William Repsher said...

I'll have to give this guy a listen, although I've learned to have no expectations for over-hyped artists, which is a given for anyone with even a modicum of talent these days. The first time Mojo got me was with Gomez back in the 90's. It surely wasn't them alone as I recall the band winning the Mercury Prize that year. (And the last big one before this new guy was Mumford & Sons, who put me on snooze alert.)

I can forgive the British hype -- they've always done this and seem to have a much more vibrant pop/rock scene than anywhere else. I don't get too mad over this. I just saw someone on the Steve Hoffman forums call Press to Play a great album ... that's where this sort of wildly inaccurate hyperbole took root.

Sal Nunziato said...

A very good friend of mine, someone I respect, who is not a fanboy and who knows as much about music as anyone I know, really likes ,"Press To Play," as well.

William Repsher said...

Having bought the album in real time and feeling as though it was an aural kick in the nuts, I know I was not wrong then or now. Ditto, McCartney II which is getting the "work of genius" revisionist overhaul. I don't mind people saying, "You should relisten to this album, it's not as bad as you may remember." That's a far cry from "greatness." Band on the Run was great. Abbey Road was great. Press to Play was a pile of shite, and I'd be glad to re-assess it as a work of staggering mediocrity.

M_Sharp said...

Meh. He's OK, nothing special. I really hate the video editing that doesn't stay on one shot longer than 3 seconds. I've seen it before, it's irritating, especially with a ballad. Putting him in a skateboard park doesn't make any sense either.

Anonymous said...

27 producers to make one George Martin more like

Cheers, Obey gravity

Anonymous said...

There does appear to be "something" there with him though. Maybe not great but certainly better than some other recently overhyped material. (WFUV constantly tries to be a tastemaker and I invariably find their picks underwhelming.)

I think the sensibilities in the UK are a little different/open than here though. I do like that Jesso's main instrument is piano and agree with the Gilbert O'Sullivan nod.

There does appear to be a new wave approaching: Ben Howard/James Bay/Borns, etc., all with slightly different presentations/instruments and personas but still in that young sensitive male singer-songwriters genre for marketing.

Michael D.

Sal Nunziato said...

"There does appear to be "something" there with him though."

My feeling Michael D. is that in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

I was already turned off by his song titles- Without You, Can We Still Be Friends, For You...why not call the album "Abbey Road" for Pete's sake.

I know I can be very hard on new artists and I don't always blame the artist. It goes back to the NYT OpEd I wrote that had everyone wanting my head. Where the hell are the people telling this guy he's not ready? He's got potential, but "something there" should not be criterion for getting signed and praised and hyped as the next Randy Newman.

Shriner said...

I did not find this terrible. 4-stars? Maybe not, but not something I'd immediately turn off if I was in the mood for something mellow.

We need to (IMO) get to the point where we are not comparing all new artists to what came before.

Admittedly, I can be pretty awful when it comes to that, but "every generation throws a hero up the pop charts" are becoming words to live by as we age...

Sal Nunziato said...

"not terrible" has been the new "really good" since about 1996.

Anonymous said...


The Toronto Star had a decent piece on a recent show he did (Google tells me he's Canadian, plays guitar/bass, 29, and this is kind of a "breakup" record):

I'm inclined to give him a shot(take a flier) if the album's priced competitively.

At this point, I'm not so sure the A&R people are any better at discovery than anyone else. Jessup seems to have captured the ears of other musicians to produce him so they must hear something too.

In any event, everyone has their fair share of things they like/hear that others don't.

Sal Nunziato said...

"In any event, everyone has their fair share of things they like/hear that others don't."

This goes without saying, Anon. BuzzBabyJesus just yesterday pointed out not liking two records that are in my Top Ten of all time. I get it.

But is that what it's come down to? "Someone will like this, so`what the hell, put it out?"

Shriner said...

"Someone will like this, so`what the hell, put it out?"

Honest question: When has this *ever* not been the case? Record companies have -- historically -- thrown every piece of shit at the wall to see what sticks. Name acts and nobodies. One-hit-wonders litter the charts from the 50s-to-today.

More power to them if record producers/labels have the money to do this -- some gems occasionally rise to the top because of this philosophy.

Now, I appreciate your point that *reviewers* maybe should examine things with a bit more of a detached eye, but I'm sure each of us has something in our record collection that we love that practically nobody else in the world (by far the radio") would ever consider playing. Reviewers probably fall prey to payola as much as DJs/Program Directors did/do... I'd be shocked, SHOCKED, to find that this was going on!

I flip through Pitchfork reviews about once a month and there's almost nothing that appeals to me -- but I'm sure there are those that love it.

I know you've said elsewhere (so have I) that the massive *volume* of what is released is too much for anybody to handle, so we all look for recommendations because we no longer have time to do the sifting of the wheat from the chaff.

At times like this, I realize why I miss CREEM magazine. Their reviews took no prisoners (from my memory...)

My long rambling point: I have no problems with companies putting something out and pushing it. I will usually give a *recommended* album 3 songs/10 minutes to catch my ear. If it hasn't, I move on and forget about it.

Sal Nunziato said...

Shriner, you may have...sorta...answered your own honest question--When has this *ever* not been the case?-- with this-

"I know you've said elsewhere (so have I) that the massive *volume* of what is released is too much for anybody to handle, so we all look for recommendations because we no longer have time to do the sifting of the wheat from the chaff."

The volume is there because we no longer have the people sifting out the wheat from the chaff. The volume of reliable writers, producers and A&R people has dwindled, as well. Yes, I know, this happens everywhere with every profession. Out with the old, in with the new. But it seems to me, that even the shit that was flung against the wall years ago...the one hit wonders, the prefabricated pop stars..was never pushed and hype as anything more than what it was. No one called Peter Lemongello the new Dylan.

William Repsher said...

I thought Lemongello was the new Englebert Humperdink.

Ken D said...

Admittedly I've now heard two songs but the only comparison I can SEE with Randy Newman is the piano, and the "I-don't-bother-worrying-about-my -haircut-and-wardrobe" attitude.
I don't HEAR any comparison...

Sal Nunziato said...

"A masterpiece of sonic understatement " - Pitchfork. Best New Music.


Anonymous said...

Well I know what to play if I have trouble falling asleep tonight.

Hey, I like a lot of modern music, it just always sounds as if it was recorded in 1971.

Capt. Al

hpunch said...

I totally hear McCartney, Newman and Nilsson:
Jesse McCartney, Lorraine Newman and Dave Nilsson
( former Milwaukee Brewer).

buzzbabyjesus said...

I was careful to say I didn't love The Left Banke, and The Zombies, but not that I didn't like them, and I called the albums classics. Meaning I could possibly love them if I gave them the time. And I might. Someday.

A walk in the woods said...

What? I love the song (How Could You Babe). Sorry to go against the prevailing winds in this thread, but... I do not get all the dismay about this tune.

I think it's got a nice downward progression, a nice thump like a heartbeat, I like his voice and the fact that he undersings/talk-sings, the piano sounds good.... it's good!

Anonymous said...

Aw, you guys are mean. Listened to the album last night. A promising, solid, enjoyable first album to my ears. I get being wary of hype, especially via the Brit mags, I've been suckered too, and comparisons to McCartney and Randy Newman are obviously overstated, though I haven't read the reviews so not sure of the context. I will admit, as an occasional music critic myself, one often relies on standard-bearers as points of reference. I mean, I'm working on a piece now where I'll probably compare Laura Marling to Joni Mitchell and Jessica Pratt to Tim Hardin or Tim Buckley or someone of that ilk, which isn't to say either youngster is anywhere near her predecessors (or that these comparisons are original to me), but it hopefully gives the reader some sense of what the albums might sound like. Music is so abstract; pity the poor critic! Anyway, don't get the hate for poor what's-his-face here.

Bruce H